For one season, one game, one carry. You betcha he's the greatest of all time.
The Tyler Rose is the epitome of the power back, yet he could get the edge against any defense he played against, including the vast majority that stacked the line of scrimmage to stop him.
In college that's how you defended the 'bone, but in the NFL, teams knew Earl was getting the rock because it's not like the Oilers had Dan Fouts keeping defenses honest. This lack of supporting cast never frustrated Earl Campbell, however, he just ran over, around, and through the opposition in eight spectacular seasons.
Decades have passed since Campbell's short career took the NFL world by storm and some terrific running backs have come and gone during that period. Next time you're at your your local pub and talk turns to the greatest running backs of all time try this.
One of the most played out topics of the running back discussion offered by mouthbreathing bar flies all over the country is, "imagine Barry Sanders running behind the 1990's Dallas Cowboys offensive line of Mark Tuinei, Kevin Gogan, Mark Stepnoski, Larry Allen, and pre-car crash Erik Williams. He'd have way more yards than Emmit Smith."
Invariably the argument will get here at some point.
I say fuck that noise. Instead, imagine Earl Campbell running behind that line and add in the Cowboys' skill position players for good measure to keep opponents honest.
Imagine an Earl Campbell getting to run against six and seven man fronts behind a collection of mauling grizzly bears. Hell, imagine Earl Campbell running behind Franco Harris' offensive line with Terry Bradshaw taking snaps. You think the record books would read a bit differently?
Texas fans, Oiler fans, and most NFL fans regard the Texas icon as a hero of both the college and pro football game. A hero who's most notable hallmark is being humble and modest on and off the field.
On the field, Campbell never celebrated scores, but instead simply handed the ball to the officials. And off the field after taking the podium at college football's most prestigious award ceremony, the Heisman, Earl didn't boast or brag, he asked for help from his mama.
They broke the mold when they made Earl.
As a football player, Campbell embodies what we think of when someone mentions "power running back". So the next time someone waxes poetic about that cliche'd football term "power", remember this video and the following quote.
"Earl Campbell may have gotten up slow, but he went down slow too."